UT Martin receives grant for deescalation training

WEAKLEY COUNTY, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Martin has been awarded a USDA grant to help members of law enforcement prepare for real-life situations.

“We’re going to be using that grant to provide deescalation training and other training in the community to train law enforcement officers with deescalation in citizen-police encounters,” said Brian Donavant, Professor of Criminal Justice.

The goal of the training is to reduce levels of violence and lower crime rates.

“The state of Tennessee this past year passed legislation that beginning next year, they will require all officers to undergo deescalation training,” Donavant said.

The program plans to train more than just officers.

“We’re also going to be working with our partners at Jackson State Community College and Carey Counseling Services to provide training for social workers and other members of the community,” Donavant said.

The grant is going to cover an all-day training session for up to 300 officers and a new 1,000-foot simulator.

“Those skills that we discussed in the classroom, we’re going to put them into the simulator for a very immersive set of scenarios where they’ll have to resolve situations,” Donavant said.

The theater-like simulator will respond to how the officer responds in these scenarios.

“The situation may be a violent one. It may be a non-violent one, but it’s going to be up to the officer to assess that. And then the simulator will respond to how the officer interacts,” Donavant said.

The eight hour training session is completely free and should be open by next spring.

They have plans to continue the training after the grant ends in 2024.

You can read more from UT Martin here.

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